University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
STORING FRUITS AND
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Storing your own fruits and
vegetables at home at the end of the growing season, following a few simple
guidelines, will enable you to have food of good nutrition and flavor into the
fall and winter. It is a good way to
keep extra produce you can’t eat right away from the garden, and to save money
later at the grocery store. Even if you
don’t grow your own produce, you can buy it locally during the season at farm
stands and farmers’ markets for home storage.
Successful storage begins with
proper selection of varieties, and harvesting.
to store those varieties best suited for this.
Catalogs often have this information.
fruits and vegetables at their proper stage, usually peak maturity.
harvest produce that has signs of disease, or insect damage that can lead to
an inch of stem on most vegetables reduces water loss and rots.
produce carefully to avoid cuts and bruises, again which can lead to rots.
Storage conditions for produce fall
into four groups. Cold (32 degrees F)
and moist (95 percent relative humidity) should be used for many including
asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sweet corn, lettuce, parsley,
peas, spinach, and grapes. Cool (45 to
50 degrees) and moist should be used for snap beans, cucumbers, eggplant,
cantaloupe, sweet peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Cool and dry (65 to 70 percent relative
humidity) should be used for garlic and onions.
Warm (55 to 60 degrees) and dry should be used for hot peppers and
How long should you expect for
storing these crops in this manner? On
the low end are from two to four weeks for asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower,
peas, and most green leafy crops. One to
two months, possibly more, are typical for leeks, parsley, and pumpkins. Moderate storage times of between three and
five months are typical for apples, cabbage, mature carrots, parsnips, late
potatoes, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
Lasting longest in storage are garlic and onions (six to seven
In addition to proper temperature
and humidity conditions for each fruit or vegetable, the following tips will
lead to the longest storage.
stored produce in a dark, well-ventilated area.
moist conditions are good for many, wet conditions are not and can lead to rot.
many like it cold, none should be allowed to freeze or go below freezing.
stored produce from mice, chipmunks, and other animal pests.
fruits and vegetables separately as fruits can pick up the flavors of
vegetables stored nearby. Also, fruits
give off ethylene gas which speeds up ripening of vegetables.
Indoors, areas that provide the correct
storage conditions can be used such as a basement room, unheated room or
garage, porch, attic, extra refrigerator, or bulkhead. Outdoors is good for vegetables requiring
cool to cold conditions, such as in root cellars, earthen mounds, or outdoor
structures such as sheds. Two drawbacks
to outdoor storage are the greater chance of freezing, and damage by animal
More ideas on storage, and
conditions for each crop, can be found in leaflets from Cornell Cooperative
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